MADAME GUYON (Jeanne Marie Bouvier de la Mothe Guyon 1647-1717)


Madame Guyon was born at Montargis in 1647 and died at Blois in 1717.  she was educated in a convent and desired to enter a religious order.  However her mother opposed to this, forced her to marry Jacques Guyon, twenty two years older than her.  At the age of 29 she was a widow and this gave the opportunity to engage into a spiritual quest.  She always had an inclination to spiritual things and her difficult marriage and widowhood gave her the ground to deepen her spiritual life.


She found and read the book The Spiritual Guide by Miguel de Molinos, this encouraged her in her spiritual seeking.  She took the Barnabite friar François La Combe as her spiritual director, with whom she visited many places in France, Switzerland and Italy.  They soon became suspected of spreading heretical teaching by the Roman Catholic Church.  Père La Combe was arrested in 1687 and was imprisoned for life.  Madame Guyon was arrested in 1688 but was released 8 months later through the intervention of Madame de Maintenon, wife of king Louis XIV, and an sympathiser of Madame Guyon.  I fact Madame Guyon had some significant influence within the king’s court, friends of hers included also the Beauvillers, the Chevreuses and the Montemarts.

Madame Guyon was arrested again in 1695 for teaching heresy and spent 6 years in prison at Vincennes and was later transferred to the Bastille.  She was released in 1703 and lived the rest of her life in Blois under house arrest.


She was an able exponent of Quietism, a form of mysticism.  Quietism often refers to the state of human inactivity while in fellowship with God when praying, reading and meditating the Scriptures.  It an spiritual exercise so as to “quieten” the soul in order for God to have His full way with the believer.  The quietist sought to abandon himself so completely to God so as to lose himself in Him.  Many refer to passivity in a negative way when speaking of the mystics or quietists, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Madame Guyon, and others like Fenelon, taught very clearly that what is sought is inactivity on the part of man so as to let God have His full way within the believer.  The archbishop of Cambrai François Fenelon was a sympathiser of Madame Guyon and this cost him to be expelled from the capital Paris to his town of Cambrai which he was not allowed to leave.


Madame Guyon wrote extensively, her smallest book -A Short and Easy Method of Prayer- is a classic which has been read and meditated by scores of believers ever since its first publication in 1685.  She wrote commentaries on all the books of the Bible 18 volumes, Letters 9 volumes, Poems and Canticles 4 volumes, an autobiography 3 volumes, and many others.

Today her influence is still quite important among those believers who seek a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.




This article 2001 by Didier LEBEAU.  It can be copied and distributed freely.  Feedback is most welcomed.




T. C. Upham: The Life of Madame Guyon; (Allenson & Co., London, 1905).


Madame Guyon: Autobiography; (Moody Press, Chicago, 1986).


Phyllis Thompson: Madame Guyon – Martyr of the Holy Spirit; (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1986).


Dorothy Gawne Coslet: Madame Jeanne Guyon – Child of Another World; (Christian Literature Crusade, Fort Washington, 1984).


Françoise Mallet-Joris: Jeanne Guyon ; (Fammarion, 1978) [The best modern biography, in French].